City still trying to demolish former Solvay Coke plant

Property owner filed for bankruptcy this month

Former Solvay Coke plant

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 05:04 pm

For more than a year, the city of Milwaukee has been trying to demolish the remaining buildings of the former Milwaukee Solvay Coke & Gas Co. so the site can be used for possible redevelopment in an area that has become a recent focal point of the city.

Former Solvay Coke plant
Former Milwaukee Solvay Coke & Gas Co. building.

But despite the raze order issued in November 2014, the city has been unable to clear the 47-acre property at 311 E. Greenfield Ave. in Walker’s Point.

The city has gone to Milwaukee County Circuit Court and property owner Golden Marina Causeway LLC, of Lisle, Ill., was given a deadline of Feb. 23 to raze the building. This month, however, Lawrence Fromelius, the primary owner of Golden Marina Causeway, filed for bankruptcy, said Kail Decker, assistant city attorney at City of Milwaukee.

Decker believes the bankruptcy filing could be beneficial in finally clearing the site.

“We believe now that they’ve gone the bankruptcy route, we could use the bankruptcy to obtain the funds to raze the buildings,” Decker said.

Fromelius’s attorney, Eugene Bykhovsky, could not be reached for comment.

At issue are seven structures on the property – five buildings and two smoke stacks, plus a few foundations left from prior buildings.

The property, which is valued at $3.5 million, has long been eyed for redevelopment. In 2003 Golden Marine Causeway said it wanted to develop a $1.5 billion, mixed-use complex of 14, 20-story towers on the site. But that project never moved forward and the site has remained vacant for years.

Now that new developments near the site are underway, the property, which is between First Street and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences, 600 E. Greenfield Ave, is even more important to the Department of City Development.

Jeff Fleming, spokesman for the Department of City Development, said the property has a lot of interesting factors and environmental concerns.

“The property will still be privately held, but there are decisions that can certainly be considered about the possibility of maritime uses,” Fleming said. “It’s a big swath of land that everyone believes has been highly underutilized in recent years.”

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